Lauren Moye, FISM NEWS
Congress unanimously voted to posthumously award Congressional Gold Medals to the thirteen military members who died in a suicide bombing this summer.
Congresswoman Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) introduced the bill to honor the fallen service members with the highest honor Congress can bestow on an individual or institution. The bill quickly gained bipartisan support with 323 cosponsors. All representatives voted to approve the bill on Monday.
In August, two suicide bombers attacked the Kabul airport in Afghanistan in a horrific terrorist attack that killed 95 Afghans. Thirteen U.S. service members were also killed in the blast, many of them in their 20s. FISM reported at the time that these “were the first U.S. combat casualties in Afghanistan since February 2020.”
McClain’s bill allows for the thirteen men and women who sacrificed their lives for American freedom to receive this public honor: Sgt. Johanny Pichardo, St. Nicole Gee, Staff Sgt. Darin Hoover, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, Cpl. Daegan Page, Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, Lace Cpl. David Espinoza, Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, Navy Corpsman Maxton Soviak, and Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss.
After the vote, McClain tweeted, “I’m proud the House passed my bill that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 13 brave men and women who were taken far too soon. Their sacrifice for our country and its allies will never be forgotten.”
Eleven other representatives retweeted her message while praising the valor of the thirteen servicemen and women. Other representatives found it too hard to limit their sentiments to the character-limited platform and instead released statements through their personal websites.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) wrote: “The House of Representatives came together this week for a humble cause – to pass legislation honoring the thirteen brave men and women that gave their last full measure of devotion in Afghanistan to save American lives and evacuate refugees to safety. These soldiers were heroes made of the moral fabric America is known for, and their sacrifice must never be forgotten. My hope is that this bill will help preserve their legacy, while also helping their families heal as we continue to pray for those who knew and loved them.”
A coordinating bill was introduced in the Senate by Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) This bill has already reached 31 cosponsors and is widely supported by both Republicans and Democrats.
In the official press announcement, Warren said, “We should honor these 13 servicemembers… who were killed last month in Afghanistan while serving our country and working to protect the lives of others. These individuals demonstrated incredible courage throughout their careers, and we owe it to them to pass legislation to recognize their heroic service with the Congressional Gold Medal.”
Many viewed President Joe Biden’s order for a quick withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as the reason for the loss of lives in the Kabul airport bombing. FISM President and CEO Dan Celia previously said, “This president has put our troops in harm’s way greater than any other president because he said to them ‘You will stay there and be in harms way at the very time when he told them to stand down… Now any of our soldiers and citizens that are getting wounded is on the back of our president…”